The Washington Post today announced the development of Zeus Insights, its new thematic targeting technology that leverages first party data and machine learning to give brands and publishers highly-customizable capabilities to target specific audiences on The Post’s site. Zeus Insights, created by The Post’s industry-leading Research, Experimentation and Development (RED) team, will deliver a more focused ad experience centered on user consumption patterns, allowing advertisers to tailor their message for specific segments of The Post’s audience or align with specific types of content. It is also designed to reduce the industry’s reliance on cookies, using machine learning to move to a cookie-less targeting system in future iterations.

“User privacy is paramount to us, so we are deeply invested in building sophisticated tools powered by first party data. Zeus Insights goes beyond contextual targeting toward a cookie-less world, leveraging signals around a user’s consumption intent, including referral, session, and sentiment information, to offer what we think of as thematic targeting,” said Jarrod Dicker, Vice President of commercial technology and development at The Washington Post. “We believe the industry must lean in on privacy and security to build a better media ecosystem. With CCPA, GDPR and actions by Apple, Google and other platforms to better the overall web experience, Zeus Insights gives brands a powerful and scalable solution that drives results in this next era of media and advertising.”

Zeus Insights builds on and dramatically expands the capabilities of The Post’s existing ad targeting technology which automatically tags stories with topics. Using advanced machine learning technologies including Natural Language Processing (NLP) and Support Vector Machines (SVM), Zeus Insights provides marketers with a customized strategy for reaching their desired audience by tracking patterns of reader consumption of Post content and aggregating that data to predict future behavior, drawing on information like a user’s session, consumption journey on The Post’s site, and referring URL. It will also enable state of the art contextual look-alike modeling and automatically create and populate topic pages for advertisers to align with.

“We know our users prefer to see ads related to the content they read, not their cookie history, so we’ve pioneered the next generation of ad targeting to ensure the best experience for readers and brands alike,” said Jeff Turner, head of ad product and RED at The Washington Post. “Data points like a user’s current page view and session on The Post’s site are much more relevant to that user’s current consumption intent than the information a cookie-driven strategy can offer. Zeus Insights taps into those kinds of data points.”

Zeus Insights is available on The Washington Post and will be available to any client via The Post’s Zeus platform in the coming months.